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The astonishing multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia was in town last week for the Jeff Kaiser concert, and afterwards, he laid a few brand-new CDs on me.

Golia has been the focal point of the West Coast free improvisation community for more than 30 years, and he kind of spearheaded the whole do-it-yourself recording paradigm in 1977, when he started his own record label 9 Winds, initially to document his own work. Since then he's added more than 200 recordings to the 9 Winds catalog, many by little-known but über-talented improvisers.

He's also inspired many brave souls to try their hand at independent label aesthetics, including Relative Pitch Records, on which this disc, Take Your Time was produced.


The saxophonist has been enjoying the comforts of a regular "day-gig" for 11 years now as a professor at Cal Arts, where he has mentored dozens of the most creative musicians to emerge from the LA area in years. A lot of these cats end up playing in one of Golia's multitude of groups and projects--but for this one, the master has gone back into his own history for personnel. On trumpet, Bobby Bradford, is another cornerstone of the LA improvising community, and drummer Alex Cline played on Golia's first project back in the '70s. Bassist Ken Filiano has played in many Golia groups and made quite a few records under his own name for 9 Winds.

The disc begins with, "That Was For Albert 10," Golia's tenor wrapping around Bradford's smearing trumpet for a repeating fanfare over the free range drums of Cline and the rambling pulsations of Filiano. Suddenly, the band contracts into "straight" time playing, just ahead of a dual solo by the two horns. Bradford finally breaks loose for a few laps around the field before Golia erupts with a massive tenor solo full of long lines broken up by well-timed screams.

"Otolith" has a vaguely middle-eastern melody over bowed bass and roiling drums. Filiano gets in the first solo, a dramatic arco demonstration of bow manipulations and moody discourse. Golia and Bradford play written material and create improvisations around each other, occasionally pausing to let the other carry on.

"On The Steel," is the high point of an album full of them. It features a sparring, rhythmically charged theme that ricochets from horn to horn in an almost mocking display. Golia's soprano races scales up the neck, while Bradford's solo is more measured and taut. Again there are long sections of remarkable dual improvisations--eventually bass and drums lock into an ecstatic free-bop groove that takes the whole piece to a higher level.

"That Was For Albert 11," might have a similar title, but the music couldn't be more different. This one begins with soprano saxophone multiphonics and long trumpet tones over piquant bass musings and asymmetrical brushwork. Golia repeats one phrase again and again, while Bradfords dances around him. There is no melody to speak of, but lots of dynamic four-way interplay.

"Parambulist" has a kind of Ornette Coleman-esque melody, draped over Filiano's grooving ostinato and Cline's surprisingly in the pocket drumming. Golia's tenor stitches long loops around his accompanists, lacing his improvisation with grainy vocalizations and wide vibrato. Bradford returns for some serpentine dialog with the saxophonist then takes off with a solo that dances along to it's own wicked beat. Filiano takes a huge-toned plucked essay full of glissandi and melodic filigree before returning to the vamp to take the tune out.

This is free music at its finest, with nods to Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler even late-period Coltrane, while maintaining a completely modern perspective. It's worth seeking out.

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